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Cincinnati Transitions to 100% Renewable Electricity

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified May 01, 2012 11:41 AM

More than 50,000 commercial and residential electricity users in Cincinnatians hired a new electricity company this week - one that aims to power the city on 100% clean energy.

Cincinnati is the first city in Ohio and the first of its size to move to 100% clean energy. The city's manager expects the average eligible household's bill to decrease by $133 as a result.

The customers will leave Duke Energy, which relies heavily on coal-burning power, and go to First Energy Solutions. A portion of the city's power will now come from local renewable sources, such as rooftop solar and solar power from the Cincinnati Zoo Solar Canopy project and the rest will come from renewable energy credits. Ohio has local renewable energy projects to provide electricity in part because of its state Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard - a policy similar to the one KySEA supports passing in Kentucky.

Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) are generated when renewable energy comes online in the grid somewhere else and First Energy Solutions will purchase them in the amount needed to offset the remainder of the city's electricity use. RECs are a market mechanism that supports the growth of renewable energy projects.

When given a choice on the ballot last year, Cincinnati residents overwhelmingly voted to allow the city to bargain for electricity on behalf of its residents. This enabled the city to drop its contract with Duke and to find a new provider. Ohio's utility market, unlike Kentucky's, is largely deregulated, allowing such a ballot effort to go forward.

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Clay County, Kentucky resident Randy Wilson ran for the board of his electric cooperative on a platform of affordable energy, better energy choices, and good local jobs in 2009. Randy was the first person to oppose a sitting Jackson Energy board member since the co-op was founded in 1938. Before running for office, Randy was an active member of the Kentuckians For the Commonwealth’s Canary Leadership Network carrying a message throughout the region about the need to transition away from coal and towards clean energy.

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